WordPress 2.5 unleashed

WordPress 2.5, designed by Happy Cog and built by Automattic, has been released. Download and enjoy.

[tags]wordpress, wordpress2.5, 2.5, happycog, automattic, blogs, blogging, tools[/tags]

64 thoughts on “WordPress 2.5 unleashed

  1. designed by Happy Cog and built by Automattic

    Automattic-employed developers certainly contributed a lot to 2.5, but note that half of the core committers are not Automattic employees (I’m one of them), and we had over ninety credited contributors to WordPress 2.5 alone! It’s a community effort.

  2. Great work – looks like a good improvement on what was already quite a good blog CMS. I won’t be using it for my own site as I’m in the process of moving from Textpattern to Expression Engine (including a redesign) at the moment, but I will be trying out WP 2.5 at some stage so that I know where it has changed over the previous version.

    Congratulations to the Happy Cog Team and Automattic.

  3. Great work, Happy Cog, sincere congratulations. WP is a great tool for blogging but his flexibility makes it work real well as real CMS too for small/medium website.

  4. I just downloaded and installed WP2.5. Within five minutes of poking around I started thinking I might want to get a little more acquainted with this new release so I can start recommending it to clients. From what I see so far, this is incredibly intuitive.

    @Shelley Was there anything positive about this release that grabbed your attention? Didn’t you bother to take a look at the whole package before posting your comment?

  5. Thanks, all!

    Benedict, Matt Thomas’s work is great. Thanks for the credit.

    Mark, thanks for the correction on the over 90 credited contributors to WordPress 2.5. Have you got a URL handy where they are credited?

    Shelley, we didn’t build the gallery application — we didn’t build WordPress, period; we did usability, IA, and design — but I’ll be sure to call Matt’s attention to the problem you’ve mentioned.

  6. I’ve been waiting for the release since I read Jeffrey’s preview post. I upgraded this afternoon without a single problem. Love the mangament interface. Great work Happy Cog!

  7. Thanks for the mention, Benedict, and thanks for the kind words, Zeldman. Working with Happy Cog on the WordPress admin redesign has been amazing; you guys truly are the best at what you do.

  8. RayMcK, was that a trick question? A Zeldman comment policy, one must say something Shiny and Happy before saying something critical?

    OK, I liked multiple file upload. Unfortunately, the gallery markup is invalid.

    Jeffrey, can’t get more unusable or inaccessible than the yellow screen of death when trying to view a gallery.

  9. We owe you and Happy Cog some gratitude for you contributions to WordPress – it’s become so much more user friendly. Thank you! I’ve been waiting for this upgrade since seeing some of the interface in the WordCamp 07 presentation…ya’ll are rockstars!

  10. Shelley, I think the problem might have something to do with this:

    Didn’t you bother running this application through validation, first?

    Phrasing your sentence like that (when you only have one other sentence with no lead-in, positive or negative) seems an awful lot like picking a fight. You didn’t contribute to the existing discussion, and you didn’t successfully start the discussion you might have been trying to.

    You can express all of the negative opinions that you’d like. People just take you more seriously when you express them with respect.

  11. My statement wasn’t antagonistic–I was incredulous. One of Matt’s pages featuring a WP 2.5 gallery has 301 html validation errors. Yet both Matt and Jeffrey are former members of WaSP. The following is from a publication associated with a WaSP program:

    A coalition of developers issued a call on Friday for Internet users to upgrade their browsers if they want to make the most of the Web.

    The Web Standards Project (WaSP) said its goal is to encourage developers to use standards, such as those published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), even if the sites they build can’t be called up from non-compliant browsers.

    “We’re hurling a hammer at the glass screen and hastening the arrival of a standards-compliant Web,” said Jeffrey Zeldman, WaSP co-founder and current group leader. Developers have been asked for six years to build sites that work for every browser, he said, leading to fragmentation of the medium and adding 25 percent to the cost of site development.

    “Every site we build this way fractures the Web, retards its progress, and alienates users of non-traditional browsers that require structural markup to function correctly,” Zeldman said.

    Compare that to 301 validation errors. I wasn’t angry or picking a fight — I was astonished.

  12. Shelley, I believe those validation errors are from TinyMCE and the way WordPress interfaces with it. I wouldn’t start pointing fingers at Happy Cog for validation errors – they just designed the interface.

    Automattic will have to work on those gallery validation errors.

    But, I think that the way galleries work, that the markup will always be generated on the fly and thus will always have the possibility of being XHTML/HTML5/HTML4.01 compatible.

    Happy Cog, the redesign rocks, and Automattic, great job on WordPress. But hell, I’m partial, aren’t I? :)

  13. Very impressed Jeffrey, the upgrade went without a hitch and everything was done and dusted in about 15 minutes.
    I really do like the new user interface and how the published post views and draft views look.
    Also a nice little feature I have noticed, when adding tags the interface (old and new), always asked to separate each tag with a comma. These commas now show up inbetween my tags no my published post. Attention to detail I salute thee!
    As we say in Wales
    “Diolch Yn Fawr”
    (Good health and long life)

  14. ***Doh

    “These commas now show up inbetween my tags no my published post.”

    Sorry typo alert, should be
    “These commas now show up inbetween my tags on my published post.”

  15. Jeffrey, you can see the credited contributors in the commit log messages. Look for “props,” “hat tip,” “from [person]” and similar language, and follow the link back to the issue’s ticket to see how they helped by finding the bug, suggesting the solution, writing a patch, etc.

    Shelley, that embarrassing gallery validation bug slipped in as last minute commit that didn’t have a lot of eyes on it. Apparently no one looked to see what gallery output the patch created. A ticket has been filed, and I have a proposed solution up, awaiting review.

  16. A couple of things. WordPress 2.5 seems to be a theme breaker. I have run across several sites posting about their successful upgrade, but have whacked out themes. They might have had whacked out themes before and no one had the courtesy to tell them, but for PR 3+ with technorati authorities of 20+ and thousands of feed subscribers, I find it hard to believe that no one has told them the truth or they haven’t fixed it.

    I put screen caps of my blog post about 2.5 and my test server experiences so far. As for 2.5 it looks good overall, but I am going to spend my day seeing which of my plugins it has broken.

    As for the guy above posting on the commas and tags, that is a problem with the way category tagging works. I have had the same problem in 2.3.3 and just go in and fix it in a post edit.

  17. Shelley, as I said in response to your earlier comment, Happy Cog did not build WordPress 2.5. We did not write one line of code for it. I’d be proud if we had—it’s awesome. But we didn’t.

    I’ve informed Matt about the gallery errors. He is taking the message to the developers at Automattic and in the WordPress community. Sounds like Mark Jaquith is already on it.

    Matt Mullenweg has done a lot to support and popularize web standards—for instance, by getting millions of people onto an easy-to-use, standards-compliant blogging tool. It seems odd to impugn his commitment to web standards because of errors in gallery pages generated on the fly.

    You did WordPress users a favor by reporting the validation errors. Why not give Automattic and the WordPress development community time to solve the problem?

  18. Jeffrey, well done, well done.

    Thank you for your contribution to WordPress and to the web. Your efforts make is a better place to live and work.

  19. Mark, I saw your bug and referenced it with another bug I filed on the gallery. The end paragraph isn’t closed, the break elements aren’t closed, the images aren’t given alt attributes. I attached a fix to my bug, though I wasn’t sure how to get the actual alt text (I just used empty alt attributes).

    The key to preventing this type of problem is run the tool as XHTML, or, at a minimum, validate all generated content through regression and unit testing before releasing a public build. If WP does have a commitment to standards, at a minimum, the developers should actually serve their own weblog pages up as XHTML, which is the most restrictive environment. More importantly, WP should ask that plug-in developers do the same, so that plug-in generated content is also valid.

    In addition, vetting the incoming characters in comments, weblog posts, and search fields, so that invalid unicode characters can’t come in through comments would also show a commitment, as well as not using named entities for >>, which plays havoc if you do serve your pages up as XHTML.

    Valid feeds that work with XHTML would also be nice, as well as providing content type as an option, rather than hard code to text/html.

    A commitment to standards is more than just talk, and more than testing an application in the least restrictive environment. You taught me that, Jeffrey.

    A “Report a bug” link somewhere near the front page at the WordPress.org site wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. I finally had to search on the codex to find the link for reporting a bug. Frankly, I would suggest WordPress look at Drupal’s front page for a better idea of site organization. It’s exceptionally easy to find what you need, immediately.

    Jeffrey, as for the new design, I’m not fond of it, but that’s personal preference. You typically have excellent design taste, so what do I know. I really miss the sidebar stuff in the Write post page, and it was very difficult to figure out how to edit a comment. There’s a lot of empty space at the top, which seems wasteful. I like the colors, though.

    Another positive, I do like the media changes, and the fact that the gallery doesn’t use an HTML table. I don’t like the fact that the tool actually sticks a tiny stylesheet into the generated gallery HTML. Better would have been to tell people, “Cut and paste this CSS into your stylesheet if you want to use gallery”. Or, at a minimum, give people an option.

  20. I’m enjoying having a look around the new version. It’s still free, and still fantastic! Thanks to Happy Cog for their role in the update.

  21. Awesome job Happy Cog, Automatic and everyone else involved. Thanks for making my favorite cms even better. However, I do think this post calls for one of my favorite quotes.

    It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt

  22. My first take was that it was slow as molasses. But then I disabled the gazillion or so plugins I had been using in 2.3 (many of whose functionality has been obsoleted by 2.5) and it seems better. The slowness could also be due to the bargain-basement shared hosting environment I’m on.

    The design of the admin area is great (natch)! I thoroughly enjoyed re-finding everything in its new, more sensible location. Just one thought for consideration: twice I accidentally created new pages (a less-frequent activity) when I meant to create new posts. Maybe swap the location of the buttons? (Or icon-ize?)

    I like it.

  23. It looks awesome! I just switched to the new version, and I love it. I have never been a huge fan of wordpress, I perfer expressionengine, but that interface … wow!

    Now I gotta work on the front end design.

  24. I am noticing the gallery bug, too. I just got into WordPress, so I don’t know what its been like in the past, but I strongly dislike the editor adding a tag that I cannot see to my markup.

    Other than those two gripes, I love WP. Specifically, I love the image uploader. Don’t know if that’s new to this release or not…but it doesn’t matter.

  25. I very much appreciate the hard work that has gone into this upgrade; it’s clear feedback from users was listened to. There’s a lot of nice stuff here (multiple file uploads, gravatars, better CSS support for inline media, improved media management). However, you said that Happy Cog only worked on the IA and user experience design so I’d like to discuss some of the negative aspects of those IA changes, because sadly they have made WP worse than before.

    The new write page — the core of WordPress — is much harder to use than the old one. I’m interested to know the user analysis you undertook to decide to move most of the sidebar tools underneath the write panel? Items that were previously above the fold and could be accessed without scrolling now require constant up-and-downing. It’s made this screen harder to use, not easier and as this is so central to a good WP experience, it casts the whole upgrade in a poor light. It also means a largely redundant sidebar area of wasted space. If you go over to the WordPress feedback pages, there is quite some discontent at this change:

    The automatic creation of a permalink as I start titling my post is unwelcome: serious bloggers customise these, they don’t simply accept the default titled slug. Now, I have to go in and edit the auto-generated version. Why do I now need to edit something that I was going to write from scratch?

    I think that removing the ID column from the posts/pages Manage screens is also a bad call. Many people need to see these IDs easily when writing custom code for navigation and the like. Now, we have to roll our mouse over the link of the post/page and read the ID off the status bar. This is not only annoying, it’s just silly.

    Finally, the new Widget interface simply does not work. It is totally counter-intuitive. The previous version wasn’t exactly brilliant, but was generally pain free: you dragged the items where you wanted and they appeared in your side bar where you wanted. If you didn’t want them, you dragged them back to the ‘pool’.

    With this new version, you have to Add them to the side bar from the pool on the left and they can’t be dragged at all. Once they are in the sidebar, thankfully they can be dragged to re-order, but removing them is counter intuitive. I have to select Edit and then Remove. In addition, the Edit command is confusingly both on the widget’s title bar and is also in the ‘pool’ on the left in place of the Add link. A basic rule of UI design is that the results of your actions should be shown near or next to the control that made the action, not half way across the screen. Sorry, but this just doesn’t work.

    It seems most of the responses here have been positive but I’d wager many of the people responding had barely touched the surface of the upgrade before making their response. Despite my misgivings above, I still like WordPress — but when the lives of hundreds of thousands of WordPress bloggers have now been made more difficult, it’s pretty difficult to show the love.

  26. The new look is great, but just as important is the fact that the functionality has improved as well. Placement of admin pages is much more intuitive now – great job guys.

  27. I want to echo Matthew Hill’s comments above, and make it clear that I stumbled on all these issues (and alerted WordPress support to them) before even learning of your role in designing the new version, about ten minutes ago.

    I know you, so I don’t doubt for a second that the new WP was crafted with the best of intentions. But the nice, thoughtful touches that have been introduced – and there are quite a few – frankly don’t compensate for the fact that the new design breaks a previously smooth central workflow. I’m talking about mission-critical, frequently-invoked functionality, things like having to scroll down the page to add a post to a category, and then scrolling back up to publish it, or finding that I’ve lost the option to edit comments (they can now only be de-approved, marked as spam, or deleted).


    Odd decisions like these have made the experience of publishing kind of a drag.

    I also wonder why functions like “Tag Surfer” and “Blog Surfer” – which very much strike me as properly belonging at the WordPress.com level, and not on an individual site’s admin panel – retain the prominence they do, when far more important options have been shunted aside or (apparently) eliminated. I’ve never once used either, in eighteen months of happy WP blogging, and unless user testing somehow indicates a significant reliance on these things in framing posts, I’d argue that they occupy proportionally far too much space in the UI.

    I personally couldn’t care less about how many validation errors are being generated by X or Y – standards enthusiasts being the squeakiest wheels known to science, I have no doubt whatsoever that all such defaults will be documented in abundant detail and eliminated in exceedingly short order. I did think it was important, though, to express some of the frustrations people who use WP on a daily basis are likely to encounter as they attempt to post and to manage their sites. Happily, I’m confident that you’ll incorporate feedback like this and work closely with the Automattic team to make WordPress even better.

  28. Since I was getting sick of logging in and seeing “your wordpress is out of date, upgrade now”, I upgraded to WP 2.5.

    I love it.

    Mainly because with my later version of WP, I was constantly zig-zagging all over the screen. I do that when reading web pages, not writing posts.

    So thank you to both Happy Cog and yourself. Congratulations on a job well done!

  29. I’d like to support Shelley’s view about the XHTML validation errors in the Gallery. It does seem odd for WordPress and HappyCog — both companies that advocate web standards — to be involved in making software that doesn’t conform to those basic web standards, regardless of who actually wrote the code.

    I’m a web designer who’s been using Web Standards for over 6 years, based on all the evangelism of Wasp, A List Apart and your own book, Jeffrey. You taught me to care about this stuff.

    Which is why I’m finding it hard to understand your dismissive comment about the problems of bad HTML as “Not our code”, or the idea that dynamically generated code somehow falls outside the ideals of web standards.

    I’d really like to understand better where you’re coming from on this?

  30. When I first updated to WordPress 2.5 I was a little uncertain whether I liked it or not. I suppose I was so used to having everything on one toolbar and easy to access. However it didn’t take me long to discover all the great features that have been added in this upgrade and it definitely has my seal of approval!

  31. I’m going to add my voice to those who are dissatisfied with the new Write Post interface. Prior to WordPress 2.5, it was possible for me to write and publish an entire post without scrolling down at all; everything that I (and WordPress) needed for most posts was above the fold.

    Now, not only are Categories below the fold, they’re below Tags (which are, unlike Categories, optional). I don’t know how many Categories the average WordPress blogger uses, but I’ve got 18 of them, and the chances are pretty decent that my default (regardless of what I set it to) isn’t going to be appropriate for any given post. Having the list in the sidebar (which now contains nothing but whitespace) was simple and intuitive; moving the list below an optional meta-data element is counter-intuitive and complicates 90% of posts I write.

    I’m also disappointed with the loss of separate “Save” and “Save and Continue Editing” buttons, not to mention having the “Delete” button right next to</em the “Save” button. I understand that “Save” now functions as the old “Save and Continue Editing” button did, but it makes doing quick edits of published posts a multi-click affair, where previously all I had to do was click “Save” and I was returned to the screen from whence I came.

    I must say that I was also dismayed at the new Widget management interface. I used to keep multiple text widgets that I would rotate in and out of my sidebar, knowing that any text widget not currently in use could be dropped into place very quickly, without having to re-enter its contents. Not so in WordPress 2.5; if I remove a text widget, there’s no way (that I can determine) of retrieving or reusing its contents.

    I appreciate that a lot of effort went into this redesign, but you’ve introduced some very significant usability issues, and they’re egregious enough that I’ve not only applied a different admin template (Fluency) but hacked the core WordPress files to make the Write Post screen easier to use.

    And just as an aside, it’s all well and good to prove to AG that you can edit comments, but it would have been well and good and truly helpful to let him or her know that you can do so by clicking on the commentor’s name in the individual comment on the Manage Comments screen.

  32. To all who feel like WP 2.5 usability has degraded: I think you haven’t thought about how JZ has analyzed WordPress. It’s about the most common user base: the target audience is most likely people with a free blog, that are very non-technical. They may understand how to add a tag, but organizing stuff is for people who are organized. Most people can’t handle folders, and just search for documents, and put them all in one place.
    Also, if you’re missing this and that button, it’s probably because the redesign is now more in line with what a regular user expects, not what ‘has always been there’.
    And, JZ wasn’t hired to oversee implementation to make sure it adhered to web standards.
    Of course, we can expect ‘tech savvy’ WordPress admin style sheets soon, that will alleviate some problems.
    I think Jeffrey did a great job, and hope I am correct throwing in these comments. JZ?

  33. @Michiel: I’ve thought *very* hard about the issue of ‘Who is 2.5 targeted at?’ and I agree completely that it’s not the power users.

    The RC1 press release said of the Write screen “It displays the most common fields in a way that makes posting incredibly easy. Additional options are hidden away until you need them. The new Write screen anticipates the natural flow of the way you write”.

    Maybe this is true for the new, regular, normal users, whatever you want to call them. But it isn’t true about existing, long-term users, who’s flow has now been disrupted. How is it a good idea to hide things below the fold, that were previously easily findable in the sidebar? For me, the new Write screen is slower to use than its forebear.

    On the wp-mailing list, several people expressed concern about the new Write screen during development and expressed a desire to either return to the earlier layout or try something different. Matt Mullenweg responded “…these ideas are not necessarily good or bad, but they’re not backed up by research or usability testing, which the current choices are.”

    The results of usability testing are only as good as what you put in: the users you analyse and what you put in front of them. Dismissing valid concerns because they’re not backed up by usability testing means nothing if the testing didn’t test the right people — I believe that the process may have been flawed because HappyCog didn’t have a fully representative group of users. There’s not enough info on the web to be sure of this, so if anyone from HappyCog can give an insight here, I would very much appreciate that, as I’m having a really hard time understanding how they came to some of their revised IA decisions.

    If you take a look at WP.com and the responses from people using the free hosted solution, you’ll see that many of them have also complained about the arrangement of the Write screen. I emailed Matt Mullenweg asking about that issue, and he said “We will be trying a few different approaches to things like categories that people seem to be having the most trouble with.”

    Doesn’t that rather suggest something is wrong? A six month dev process that created more Write page issues for both novice and experienced users and that the lead developer now says will be looked at again.

    I’m sorry to be so critical about this, but it’s so frustrating. WP is a good product, but changes in 2.5 have seriously alienated many WP users — you only need to trawl through Technorati to get some understanding of the scale of the problem, or have a look at the WordPress Feedback forum.

    However, the biggest issue is the lack of public commentary on these criticisms. For a company that prides itself on creating software that gives people a voice, it’s ironic and a bit sad that WordPress seem to be more interested in hiding and defending themselves than being open and listening to those voices. Follow these threads to see what I mean:


    There’s a lot of nice new stuff in 2.5, but it almost doesn’t matter because the core function — easily creating blog posts — is now worse. And that’s a shame.

    I know it’s not possible to keep all of the people happy all of the time, but I fear for WordPress’s future if it continues along the ‘dumbing down for the masses’ route.

  34. Michiel, I have thought about the way the most common user is using WordPress, and I’d argue that having the categories above the fold a) encourages them to make use of the feature, b) doesn’t confuse them, and c) provides a huge benefit to those of us who do use them.

    Moving the categories (and tags, but as Kris points out, they’re optional) below the fold was a staggeringly enormous mistake, so much so that it overshadows all the great things about the UI changes in 2.5.

  35. Jeffrey I have never had the temerity to comment on your blog before. And everything I have in my life that is good is due to you, to Eric and other folk of your ilk.

    But this is just too much. WP 2.5 sucks. Everybody knows that. The long standing cache arrangements or the lack thereof, not to mention the voluminous mysql queries indicate that this is not serious software. The complete disconnect between the founding proprietor and anything to do with UI is another. The discord beween Open Source and the business demands of dot comming is the third. Please do not get me started on html5, xhtml or a whole lot of other stuff. You are in danger of forking the web standards community.

    But nevertheless – my very best wishes and good luck.
    In my agency I buy your books in volume and issue them to our trainees :)

  36. I’ve given 2.5 and now 2.5.1 some time now- and I can’t honestly say I’d want to go back to 2.3.x
    However, a few interface quirks still exist- some mentioned above:
    the widgets loss of drag and drop, putting the tag field above the category field, etc- and nobody lamented the loss of the PressIt Bookmarklet- which is one of the most useful WordPress tools (I’ve posted a tutorial on how to recreate it manually here: http://www.websitetology.com/?p=303 )
    I too have made a page when I meant to make a post- due to the equal weight given both buttons on the dashboard, which to me, is not a good idea, since people should be making more posts than pages.
    Another oddity is that the “Design” tab is on the left side- which seems very non-web 2.0. If design is separated from content- the content management tools would be on the left- and the design/management tools would be on the right. People shouldn’t be playing with their theme near as often as their content.
    The new Media Handler has WAY too many different options and has become too complicated IMHO. Why are there 4 options- pictures, video, audio and media- when video, audio and media are all the same basic action. Nevermind that the video tab doesn’t actually insert a video like most video plugins- but just makes a link- not the action a user would need a separate tool from the one in the tinyMCE tool set.
    While adding additional functionality is fine, when the interface gets more complicated it makes it less user friendly- which cuts down the likelihood that people will use it as often. It’s one of the reasons we start so many business clients with WordPress instead of throwing them into Drupal etc.
    The “kitchen sink” button is a nice way to hide functions for advanced users that need them.
    The drafts function movement didn’t make any sense either- and I’m still not sure how the editors are notified of contributors posts- but, that’s another set of comments.

  37. hi guys,

    first i must say i like the design you did, period, looks a lot cleaner, and thanks for the work!
    I had liked the write panel a little different though, like many others, i created pages instead of posts a few times. But I guess that takes guetting used to ;-) and will work out for me later.
    But the image creating’s become a lot harder and I hope maybe for the next version you’ll bring back the toolpanel from the previous one’s and maybe eliminate a little scrolling with the categories on the right, or left.



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